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EU calls for 'maximum restraint' after Gulf of Oman incident

A spokeswoman for the EU diplomatic chief called for restraint in the region [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 June, 2019

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Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini, said the bloc was still gathering information on the incident, which involved one Norwegian and one Japanese-owned vessel.
The European Union (EU) called for "maximum restraint" to avoid escalation after two tankers were reportedly attacked in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, forcing their crews to evacuate the vessels.

Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini, said the bloc was still gathering information on the incident, which involved one Norwegian and one Japanese-owned vessel.

"The region does not need further elements of destabilisation and tensions and therefore her (Mogherini's) call and our call continues to be for maximum restraint and to avoid any provocations," Kocijancic said.

The US Fifth Fleet said its warships had received distress calls from two vessels in a "reported attack", while Iran said its navy had rescued 44 crew members after the ships caught fire in "accidents" off its coast.

Iran state TV released a video showing smoke pouring from an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, with photos released from the news agency also revealing flames billowing from the centre of the vessel. 

IRIB news released a blurry video showing a vessel apparently being hit by an explosion, following reports that two tankers were abandoned in the Gulf of Oman after "coming under attack". 

[Click to enlarge]


A state-run IRNA photo showed a blaze on the tanker, which appears to be the Front Altair, owned by Frontline.

Both the US and Iran claimed to have assisted the vessels, that signalled for help off the coast of Fujairah, UAE.

"We are aware of the reported attack on shipping vessels in the Gulf of Oman. US Naval Forces in the region received two separate distress calls at 6am local (Bahrain) time and a second one at 7am. The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) rendered assistance," the US 5th Fleet Public Affairs said in a statement.

Iran state media also said its naval forces rescued 44 crew members after an "accident" on a tanker on Thursday.

"Forty-four sailors from the two foreign oil tankers which had an accident this morning in the Sea of Oman were saved from the water by the (navy) rescue unit of Hormozgan province and transferred to the port of Bandar-e-Jask," Iran's state news agency reported.

It comes a month after a similar incident in the same area, involving four ships.

Iran or its proxies have been held responsible by some for the attacks, which follows tensions with the US and Saudi Arabia after Washington enforced tough new sanctions on Tehran.

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